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June 18, 2020 2:00 am
Joe and Cindi Ferrini talk candidly about walking through life with their 38-year-old son Joey, who has special needs. Acknowledging the strain a child with disabilities can put on a family, the Ferrinis tell what they did to strengthen their marriage in the midst of doctor visits, therapy sessions, and meeting Joey's continual needs. They also talk about the importance of finding a care team or community of people who will be an emotional and practical support in the daily care of their child.
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In the first years of marriage and as new parents, Joe and Cindy for any found themselves on a journey they never anticipated.
They were parents to a child with special needs. What would Cindy say today to a couple who was beginning a similar journey. You know, I would probably really encourage them that the longer that there on this journey the more joy they will see in it.
I think getting to be on this journey. Early is such a precious gift that we didn't really recognize early on. It takes a lot of the south side of you know it affects your marriage because you can't be selfish. You can't make your own plans. This is family life today. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson on Poplar team find us some on the family life today.com there are obviously challenges that come with being parents of a special needs child. Joe and Cindy Ferrini will tell you there are blessings on the journey as well will hear about some of those today stay with us and welcome to family life today.
Thanks for joining us.
If you know every relationship as long as were well rested, well fed, there is no stress in our lives. Marriage is pretty simple of that right to come in as soon as when I met you and your well rested and well fed it.
Still, that's the think about it, it's hard it and that's because we do have a flesh that continues to pull us away from marriage by God's design. That's a great point. But you know as well as I do that when were dealing with challenger and stress when you're in a when your shed out brings out the worst and right so in the midst of that to try to pursue oneness in marriage is a little bit of a hurdle we got some friends were joining us this week talking about this Joe and Cindy Ferrini are back with us again. Welcome back. I think Joe and Cindy are colleagues they have spoken for two decades that weekend to remember marriage getaways all around the country they live in Cleveland, Ohio. Joe 440 years plus was a dentist.
Now he was a dentist is an overpaid mechanic we heard you get really I know anyways is as I walked in one day the office and it was an emergency patient never saw before he comes in with this toothache. Any I just introduce myself say hello and next words out of his mouth was. You know what you dentist a bunch of overpaid mechanics. That's his first cruising two words out of his mouth yes has to punch overcommit pain mechanics. I'm trying to write.
I just out. I'll give you that one. Okay, so I try to start a conversation with anybody comes back to that same comment again and at that point I'm kinda tired of it and I throw my instrument on the on my bracket table and I open the arm to the chair and I sitting whether there's a Shell station at the corner over there and that is I hear the very good mechanic over there so you go there take her to so after you better and then I think that instrument and welcome Cindy got married in 1979. Two years later their first child was born a son who they named Joey and in that first year of Joey's life. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy CP and then later diagnosed with mental challenges that came along with that and Joey's 38 today.
He still lives with you guys is verbal skills are very you know that he gets his point across his ability for self-care. Not too much. We pretty much take care of all of his needs. So you have an and will have with you for the duration of your marriage. You have 1/3 party in your marriage. We've already talked about the fact that this is not what you would hope for. Plan for II have some friends who recently celebrated the birth of a child was born with Downs syndrome so they know that there on a journey they don't know all the details of what's ahead for them that can be a very different situation than what you experienced.
But if you're sitting down with a couple at the beginning of this journey and you want to talk with them about how they keep their marriage thriving in the midst of the journey the gods can have them on where you start since we just wrote the book I would hand him the book 1st.
If I was always embracing marriage together on the spiritual needs journey and it's a book we've got hurt family life of listers are interested, they can check it out our email@example.com. I would say that there's so much that when we wrote the book. Our goal was to concentrate couples on fulfilling their vows, and I would really impress upon them just the need to really go through those and talk about them and what is that mean now that you have this new situation in your marriage because all of us can we say our violence at the altar. I can tell you I was one of those who just that it's going to be all the positive lines to mention how anything could ever go wrong and then you know Chris, you're married all of two weeks leave probably fail in a couple of oh boy this is not far better at all.
I would really say to them concentrate on your vows and how you are going to endure so that you will be leaving a legacy because if you don't plan it, the chances are you won't see it. The divorce rate in the special needs community is very high pressures. The disagreements that you have.
They will be similar, and it will be very different than other couples you know I always would default to Joe for certain things like medical types of things because that's more his background that you know I have a lot of decisions to make in the home and when I was the one taking Joey to all his therapies and I couldn't have him there every single minute so I would have to decide on things so that when you bring them together if you're going to have differences. I guess just one aspect. And of course in marriage. You know you have finances in a multitude of other things to that you have to bring together but a lot of those things are easily resolved because there are just like a finiteness to them. Joey is never going to change. He's not going to be different tomorrow when he wakes up unless God chooses to heal him and if he does, that will be a great surprise to us because you know those probably the first 10 years that's all we ever prayed that the Lord would heal him.
But you know I would probably really encourage them that the longer that there on this journey the more joy they will see in it. I think getting to be on this journey. Early in such a precious gift that we didn't really recognize early on, you know, it affects your marriage because you can't be selfish.
You can't make your own plans unless you have backup you know which we do.
We have family has been great so father 20 years. We spoke for family life. I have a sister and now our daughters who will care for Joey.
When we leave, but all of those different things are going to challenge your marriage.
All of those specific little things and I would say concentrate on your vows and look to the future as a goal to leave a legacy and see where that will take you because you have purposed that in all your decisions will look different. As you recognize that you you want to go the distance and this did you guys ever struggle with the vowels part was that ever something you said but I don't know if I can do this for better or worse.
I don't think we struggled with the vows that I know of a member. One specific time. Joey was very sick. He had had a grandma seizure. He wasn't breathing. So Joe came in and was giving him CPR waiting for the rescue squad, and it was it was and I remember anything to calm down. We didn't have to take them anywhere.
Things calm down, but I remember looking at show and saying I don't know if I can do this anymore this and it is not a threat on our marriage like like I quit or anything that I didn't sometimes think that you know and to be honest, but I remember saying I think I can do this anymore. And in his gentle, quietly he said let's give it till tomorrow morning and you know tomorrow morning when we got up and looked different. It didn't look a whole lot better, but it did look to me that desire to say I can do this a little bit longer and really that was just wisdom in his careful, thoughtful wording to give me that hope to wait till tomorrow to make a decision. He wasn't saying.
He was giving me permission to be in that moment of real frustration until I want a great phrase honestly come home right now listen and think I'm done to say let's give it till tomorrow morning. One day at a time and you might put 40 years behind you sure you were talking around the table that the book is love always a LL and the picture on the book is actually my mom's ring from her 50th wedding anniversary and it's inscribed. Love always and she cared for my dad the last six and half years of his life and that was the reason for that ring because she cared for him in all ways. Like we are Joey and always when he goes to the bathroom. We help him when he gets up in the morning we help him shave. He can put the shaver on he can go to his face. It's not going to be complete. We can throw in the shower but he's gonna need assistance. He's not doing all this on his own and so the idea really is really even around this table at some time of our life.
We are going to have to love in all ways our spouse because probably one of us at some point is going to need a lot of care how we do that we had practice so I think we both know that when we get to that point down the road someday one of us is going to do really good job a lot of practice, but that because of the kinds of things I think we have to recognize all of us are going to go through this. You brought up the care team that has been a part of this journey with you, and it occurs to me that if you don't have others outside of the marriage outside of your family who are coming along and agreeing to be a part of that care team. If it's all on you all the time. There would be no time available for the two of you to be a couple absolutely right, and that is when the blessings that we have have enjoyed is that we've been able to surround us with a team of people that because of their love for Joe and willingness to help us so that they have really come along side of Osan and Joey to address those needs. Should you go recruit those people or did they volunteer because if it was me I would have a hard time going to somebody and Sam look I need you to be on the care team for my son that I know you didn't sign up for this, but you gotta help me out here when you know for those people listening who are in this situation. We all know this is not easy.
Wasn't on our blueprint to say sure will take the child with special needs who needs everything done for them.
We didn't raise our hand. We just were given this gift to know so I really encourage people to try to find people around you. Even if someone just offers and says hey if you ever need to get away or go grocery shopping or do something.
Come over for an hour and help out. Make a list start that list. In our case might parents Joe's parents were very instrumental in caring for Joey in her ear early years of doing ministry and they just welcomed him loved him, and always to now and then I parents my parents died. Matt rather young, but not too far off from their deaths were Joe's parents deaths. Then we had really no one in so my sister Sue stepped up and said I'll take care of them when you leave for the weekend.
At that time our girls were probably about 10 and 15 years old.
They were way too young to you know be able to help in this way, so Sue was very instrumental. She was single and when she retired. That was her goal. She says I am here to help you but if you do don't have family members who are stepping them inside will help out here. You make it a priority to talk to people at church or to go hire somebody. I mean, it would seem to me if your marriage is going to survive. You have to be able to say I need somebody to watch our son while we go on a date and you think of this that this isn't right were going on a date in your watching our son. You know you share what I think that's where a lot of people really get into trouble because they don't put any concentration on this marriage because of all the work and effort that there is in the child, but I would like to just share that we have dear friends, a younger couple. They have two special needs girls 100% care and always there about 15 and 13 years old and someone in their life from their church volunteered 15 years ago. To take one night a week to give them a night off to get from six till 10 o'clock to have a date night every week this family wants no notoriety. They don't want their name out there and this is a gift of love, a gift of love to this couple and they will say this saves our marriage because we get to have this time alone and we know that they can take care of it and of course not only is that person there, but also a nurse because he it's their medically fragile children so you know I think there's so many different ways you could go about this one. I think you you start to listen to people who might have an interest and then maybe even invite them to come and meet your child and get to know your child and not be afraid without us having Joey. I can honestly tell you I don't know.
I would volunteer because I was never in that world of knowing what you do what you do. But if you care and if you love someone.
I think that makes it easy. I remember someone from our church saying to me.
I don't ask people how they are because I'm afraid if they tell me I might have to do something and I remember thinking, thinking to myself that is a real sad commentary for us as Christians is in it, so I would say to that, the family who is looking for. How do I get out for one night a week, begin developing friendships maybe barter with another family who has a special needs child and say hey I watch your child on Monday night so you can go out and then you give me Thursday night have to be creative and not so different than when you have your own children that are typically developing. It's just that the needs are different, how you care for them. What do they need to have done.
I could never, we could never have a high school girl come in and babysit Joey because he is a man so those kinds of things become very different. And because Joey is so nonverbal. She doesn't tell you if something wasn't right when he was aware he had a little job for about 15 years and we were his transportation. But you know we never let them have other transportation because we wouldn't know.
Did he get there, like directly because he wouldn't really answer fully and appropriately, and he would almost look at me and say what answer would you like so you know all of these little things that become changes in your life are such that you do need outside people, whether it's to listen to help to bring a meal, maybe even to mow the lawn for someone when you say hey this would give you two extra hours. Couple that Cindy was referring to that these medically fragile children, they do actively recruit RNs LPNs to come and help them that's essential in our situation is that we've been so blessed that we've had people come to us and say I've noticed that you don't come to church together. Okay can I take care of Joey. You know that the 10 o'clock service for you and you so you can both sit together wouldn't propose that we didn't ask that. But someone recognize that need from the church and just stepped up and I'm just thinking of nobody's recognizing your need. You may need to stand up and say friends for our marriage to survive were really need some help and were not trundling a burden on anybody but can some of you help us out and just trust the Lord, the God's got a raise up to coasters who know people, especially as I say, I'm sitting here thinking got us talking to somebody right now you know who needs help. You've seen them. Maybe her good friends with them and you're the one God said go tell him to give him a break and any other thing I thought it was a couple of family marriage without special needs still needs community. They need help help many people.
I need to get out and put priority my marriage. You can't do it. That's the church got it created us to do life in communion. I mean it's definitely harder. I've obviously you know that, but it's still a need for all of us up to my my marriage without friends.
Never to work on thinking about were talking about her important relationship with our spouse, but I'm also listening to you, thinking how you do your walk with God because I know you guys. Jesus loses out of you. You can tell your love for him is so apparent and so here you have a special needs child.
You also had two more daughters so your lives are full and busy. How did you carve out time for a dynamic walk with God.
I think that your your children in some ways help carve that out when you will couple of things. First of all I would very rarely miss a quiet time by quiet time wouldn't necessarily mean that it was an hour long. It might've been a verse or chapter or maybe a couple of verses till I learn something new. It wasn't always this great spiritual high of getting out your Bible and your teaching manuals and you know having this big quiet time, though I would've loved to have done that. I think sometimes we have to just steal those moments when we can. And so I didn't put a big burden on myself that I had to do a certain something, but maybe it was as I said one verse two I can cling to one verse in that day and you know what throughout the day.
I mean Kelly points us to Jesus all along the way. He knows the Lord. I would have to say for sure that Joey has taught us things that the Bible itself just reading it would never have taught us about God's grace in a way that we never could learn from reading a book or your sermon and we tell people all time there if you want to learn how to worship you want to learn how to come to the throne of God stand behind us in church and joy will take you there was so desire to close his hands are up. Use words you singing in is not on tune at all. But you know what he's he's in worship.
I remember at our youngest daughter's wedding Kathleen he was in the bridal party and everybody was on the stairs okay will that is not the place for Joe so he was on the floor area of the church, but with other guys and there was someone singing and Joey was like nobody else was there. He closed his eyes and he raised his hands and he singing and I thought to myself she's not looking for any attention he is worshiping Jesus right this minute and you could just see in the room. The impact that had on the people who were not we could all be so very interesting to because when our kids have struggled God gives us a different view. We see them struggling and yet God sometimes gives us weight you not looking at it the way I'm looking at it, our son. I remember realizing and getting a diagnosis of ADD and he just struggles in school and I think he was maybe in the third or fourth grade where I felt like me and all are doing his homework every single night were just doing this and I watched him struggle socially. I watched him struggle with school and I remember telling God like okay this is ridiculous and I'm not even struggling with what you guys are struggling with, and I told God I am going to fast and pray until you either heal my son or you tell me what in the world are you doing in Salt Lake to be day seven and I'm like okay I something here and I remember I was in on on elliptical bike and I was reading Exodus that day and I read this in Exodus 410 says that Moses said to the Lord, O my Lord, I'm not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue and then the Lord said to him who has made man's mouth who makes him mute or death, or seeing, or blind, is it not I the Lord and I remember putting down my Bible and I've never read that in that way before. It was a safe God said, I am delighting in your son.
I have made your son can you not delight in him as I have made him any change my whole perspective. Whereas, if God, delighting in him. I'm going to the site to hear Joey delighting in God himself is inspiring. This note just you sharing the story to have your son people who are listening. We know we have one story you have another story.
And when we think about if you will, special needs in the family. They are varied not only in what the diagnosis is, but the degree of the diagnosis, and so I think it's easy to be frustrated no matter where you are on that spectrum. And I'm not just talking the autism spectrum.the spectrum of special needs. It's frustrating because you want to help, and sometimes you just can't.
Sometimes I think you have to just be and I really feel to in our family having Joey has allowed for our girls to become to know. I wish I could say we do such a good job, Hannah, through no fault of our own. If you will. They have turned into the loveliest of young ladies, how they love and care for their brother and other people. One of my daughters is looking into foster care.
Another is working with an improv group that are down syndrome young adults having a blast.
That's her background musical theater improv and she's loving it.
Would they have gone those directions without Joey gets more far-reaching than I think his parents. We have to come to a place which that Scripture verses took you to where you say I do delight in them like you delight in them, and it gives you a whole different perspective for that day, and for that goal that I said earlier where you're looking.
Will we have a legacy. When we look back on this child's life and in our marriage was on the tray points in my life was when when the elders of the church came over.
When we found when everywhere.
Start now. Find out the joy has special needs and the elders said to me. I remember clearly and sit in the family room. He sat across from a sitting listen Joe God made Joe just what he wanted to tell you I did not receive that very well. But you know what if if there was a little bit more love and tender mercy, that statement I plywood received like you just received that passage therefrom. In Exodus, but it took me a while to realize that guy was right. God did make just what he wanted you and you think of the lease.
I thought when you describe Joey worshiping thought someday will be doing that in heaven and you'll be there. That's right it on you described earlier.
Joe looking into his eyes when he was little baby and seeing that look what you think you can see in his eyes the glory and amazing you know, we prayed for Joey for many years and I remember going into his room and him just going and I thought for sure that was gonna be the morning he'd be healed and I stopped praying because I realized he is just who he is and I'm going to love him just how he is and when he was little. I think if you would have said would you like Joey healed and if Jesus would walk in the room and heal him I would've said yes yes heal him right now, but at 38 years old and we've said this for number of years. If Jesus came to us and said would you like me to heal him. I think we'd say no because he is taught us so much she thought her family so much.
He taught other people so much and we have learned to love him in all ways, and I believe he has loved us, and always you know whether our kids have acute special needs or they all have special week to their needs are clear and present an obvious and they make them known to us) our marriage has needs, but it's not always as acute or obvious, think part of what we're hearing this week is we have to be smart enough to know to address the less obvious need of our marriage, even if it means setting aside some of those those immediate needs that our kids are coming with.
If we don't put the priority on the marriage there's not gonna be the strength of available long-term to meet the special needs of our kids and you guys address this so well in your book club always which is a book we want to encourage your listeners if you're dealing with this personally or if you know a couple in your church get a copy of this book and pass it on to them.
Thank you guys for being with us and for sharing this, and for encouraging others through this book and drew this time to think you should we've got both of Jones in these books available.
Our family like to the resource center they wrote another book called unexpected journey caring for those with special needs.
So both books are available go to family life today.com. If you know somebody who has a special needs child get them copies of these books and pass them on to them as a gift. Just let them know that you're there for them and that you're available and offer these books as a way of saying we care about you again, go to family life to.com to get the books. Love always and unexpected journey by Joan Cindy Ferrini, you can order from us firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call one 800 FL today to order one more time.
The website family life today.com or call to order at 1-800-358-6329 that's one 800 F as in family L as in life and in the word. Today we want to give a shout out today to those of you who have made today's program possible. Those of you who make each of these conversations possible along with our website. Our resources are events all that we do it, family life happens because listeners like you are more than listeners listers like you. Some of you take the next step M pay this forward make it possible so that others can benefit from a practical biblical help and hope we provide each day your own family life to and we are grateful for those of you who have stood with us in the past and those of you who are standing with us today effect if you can help with the donation today would love to send you as a thank you gift a couple books by our friends Matt and Lisa Jacobson, who were with us this week and their books are called 100 ways to love your husband 100 ways to love your wife go to family life today.com to make an online donation or call one 800 FL today to donate by phone and just request your copies of Matt and Lisa Jacobson's books as a thank you gift for your ongoing support of the ministry of family life today. We appreciate you out tomorrow morning to tell you about a movie that is premiering this weekend. It's available online for you to watch. It's a movie that's a great Father's Day film with cold selfie dad Brad Silverman who is the director and screenwriter for the movie's coming with us, and will also tell you about how Kanye West got involved in this field, so that'll come up tomorrow.
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